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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Old Habits die hard...

Well, at least old-habits-that-you-had-tried-to-walk-away-from,-thought-you-were-done-with-and-then-fell-back-into die hard...

So, as my last post indicated, I had slipped back-wards again into some poor eating choices and less than stellar exercise choices.  That post was like 12 days ago with a major Feasting holiday in there, and though some of my motivation and power of choice has returned, I am still eating weird and not exercising enough.  Thanksgiving--like Christmas and my birthday--are what I call "free days."

Free days are days when you celebrate and enjoy the feasting, forget about external restrictions, and savor & enjoy the food that you choose to put into your body (instead of just wolfing down as much as possible--so conscious feasting).  This is different from "throwing your health to the wind" or "cheating on your diet" or "unconsciously overeating and seeing how much you can cram in before you are in too much pain to actually breathe".  It does mean that you embrace the reasons for the celebration and feasting, that you do not deny yourself of time honored food or foods lovingly prepared by those who care about you, but that you take smaller portions of everything (still filling the plate) and you savor the goodness, the love, the tastiness, and you celebrate it all.  And yes, you may end up full to bursting if you are not careful to take small enough portions, but it is a rare day, a day set aside for something other than watching your is a day to embrace family and friends, and feast in all Thankfulness (I did finally do a Thanksgiving Gratitude list, which can be found clicking this link).  So that day I do not count...

But there have been 11 other days between my last post and now that I DO count as having been days where I have not been as healthy as I would like to be.  It has been up and down, many mixed days, with green smoothies giving a boost of healthful energy on that same day that I enjoy a piece of left-over cake filled with ice cream, or chowing on thanksgiving leftovers in all of their glory for lunch on the same day I make a spinach and shrimp stir-fry for dinner, or spending 6 hours super cleaning a few rooms of the house (like spring cleaning (even mopping UNDER the big braided rug and the couch!) but not able to open the windows to air things out because it is too cold outside), the vegging on the couch and watching 3 back to back Sci-fi movies until 2 am.  So an interesting mix of good, healthy choices and poor, less than Healthy choices.  So, yes, my newer, healthier habits are still hanging on and part of my life, strong even though somewhat in a fledgling stage.  but my old, less healthy habits are still hanging on, hanging around--usually rearing their heads later int eh evening.  The more my brain and body feel tires, run down, or the stresses of the day have built to a certain point--that is when the old habits, the lure of the old "familiar", the lack of self-love, kicks in...

So, it is a process.  It is getting easier, most days, to make healthy choices, to make choices that ACTUALLY make my body, mind, and spirit feel better, feel stronger and healthier.  But there is still that part of me that seeks out those things (which for me are "bad" foods, lack of activity, and shutting off my brain with mundane crap) that are "old familiars", that were companions of times when I felt self-loathing, and needed to drown it out.  I do not need those old habits, they no longer serve me, nor do they serve my goals and desires for my life.  So I continue this slow Transformation process, letting go of old habits as I can, and building new ones.  It is not an overnight journey to a new me, it is not the destination that is important, it is this amazing step, by step transformation, where I am learning who I am, and what I can contribute to life.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mal-adaptive coping skills-OR-Eating crap makes you feel like crap

Okay,  so....

the past week or so, I have not been eating "the good stuff", and i do not feel good...
hmm... correlation?!?!

--instead of green smoothies packed with vegetable micro-nutrients and hard boiled eggs laid by happy, cage free chickens, I have been eating gas station grab and go breakfast sandwiches for breakfast.
--instead of tuna fish with mayo and pickles on Kale leaves, I have been snagging "tornados" (little tortilla roll-ups stuffed with things like "steak and cheese" or "sausage and peppers") for lunch
--instead of making a kale, red cabbage, broccoli and shrimp stir fry with brown rice for dinner, I have tossed a frozen pizza in the oven and served it with canned peaches one night; another night was frozen chicken nuggets and frozen french fries with canned spinach, instead of the a turkey and spinach pie.

So, not only do I feel extra tired this week, as I also have not done ANY walking this week, I also feel irritable, grumpy, and just plain out of sorts.

While some of those feelings have to do with some life challenges that are creating friction in my spirit and with little annoyances of ongoing themes that I just have to find a way to either change my attitude about or change the system that causes the annoyances (if you can't change it, you need to find a way to just accept it), some of those feelings are caused (or at least amplified) by the poorer health choices I have been making this week.

I had not realized how much my diet and basic lifestyle habits had been changing, or the effect it had, as things changed slowly over the past couple of months since I had started exercising regularly and eating more health consciously.  With just a few days of crap eating and lack of intentionally focused movement, I have found that my general emotional character is on the downward slope and my ability to focus on what I need to do to deal with the challenges before me is diminished.  So it becomes a cycle--some additional pressures of life added to the normal day to day stress of life prompts me to seek out "comfort" foods and reduced my motivation to get my body moving.  In turn the lack of exercise and the poor nutritional quality of the food compounded with the chemical components of processed foods leads to me feeling more tires and burdened, and thus increases the desire to just return to old methods of feeling secure--like being a couch potato and eating crappy foods (odd how those things are associated with "comfort" when they really bring anything BUT comfort in the long run).

It boils down to mal-adaptive coping skills.  Those things we learned through trial and error during the sad, scary, or traumatic times in our lives that in those specific instances alleviated some of the overwhelming anxiety and emotions of that time, which became habits for us even past those extreme experiences.  When you first stuffed your mouth with potato chips or a doughnut while being overwhelmed with fear or anger and knew that expressing it in that moment would have been detrimental to you, it was a moment of survival--you NEEDED to find a way to dissipate those feelings.  Or that terror you felt as a small child and you cried out and your parents gave you sweets to help you feel better while they were grappling with things you could not understand.

The endorphin rush that came with begin so full to bursting that made the pain and anguish not feel so strongly; the serotonin rush that came after downing a cake while despairing from a great loss; the numb, protected feeling that the buzz from an alcoholic drink gave you making you feel less of an painful emotion; the way you could escape from the hard realities of your life by getting lost in a TV program or movie; the distraction from your emotional turmoil that happened when you accidentally shut your finger in a drawer making the physical pain a focus and lessening the emotional pain; the release of various brain chemicals that you got from winning $50 on a scratch off ticket when you were so extremely stressed out about how you were going to have gas to get your baby to the doctors office...all of these experiences are natural things that we have happened upon that momentarily help us feel better from the pain, stress, and fears we have experienced in our lives.

And when they happen once in a while, are not a problem.  But when we begin to use (usually in an unconscious or sub-conscious way) these as a way to cope with the trials in our lives, a way to disappear from the pain and stress that life often brings, that is when these "momentary" and often unplanned experiences went from being a way to survive a momentary physical, mental or emotional overwhelming to a mal-adaptive practice that gets in the way of solving the problems that are creating the overwhelming situations in life.  Yes, they are a type of coping with life, and may in the past have been the only one a particular person could do at a particular time to make it through a particular trauma or period of life. But when they become the default coping mechanism, they end up getting in the way.  Instead of leading to survival and thriving, they lead to self-destruction.

So, reminding myself that eating crappy food and NOT exercising, are, for me, mal-adaptive coping skills, because when the additional stress of certain things gets stronger, I find myself choosing (sub-consciously for the most part, as I had planned out my meals for the week and they did NOT include crap, but just gravitated towards the crap in a less than decisive and more "autopilot"manner) those things which I had chosen in the past that bring momentary reduction of stress.  It solves no problem, in fact, it creates problems because now the same stressors are still there and have not been dealt with, AND I am MORE tired, have less motivation, and on top of the grumpiness I was already feeling, are the feelings of "Duh!!  I know not to eat that and I know exercise makes me feel better".

So, right now, for the rest of this day and for tomorrow too, I commit to eating food that actually makes my body and mind function better, which overall will make me feel more capable and less stressed, so that I can figure out a way to strike a balance with a particular situation.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

just touching base

I realized I have not posted in over a week.  I need to get back to posting 3-5 times a week.  But for right now, I just want to touch base.  I have not been walking much over the past week, mainly due ot the weather, but in part due to a VERY low energy level.  Usually walking or moving around helps build my energy level up, but this past week, it has not helped, so instead of making it 2+ miles a day, I am lucky if I can get my energy up enough to do 1/2 a mile.  So while I have tried, and pushed, and have gone more to weather protected places (stores, malls, etc...) to walk, I find that my energy level has not been rising.  I am looking into getting a YMCA membership as with winter coming, it would be good to have an indoor place to exercise.

Part of it I think is the grieving process, and though I have not been very conscious of how my friend's passing has been impacting me, I think it is a behind the scene process that is bringing my energy levels lower, and my overall mood lower.  Grief is not a bad thing, it is a part of life, and a sign of how amazingly a person impacted your life.  So it is just a process, and it is okay.  I just forgot how heavy even sub-conscious grief can feel.

Still plugging along with my journey towards health, though I have been less than stellar about food choices lately. Halloween candy and my birthday may have something to do with that.  Today is day 1 of a new plan of eating that I am committing to.  If I stay committed to it, I will share it.  resuming my spark people food tracking...using Nov 1st as a new start date.

Transformation is an ongoing, baby step process for me...every step forward is good, and steps backwards are not a real problem as long as I do not stop striving to move forward...